Woody’s wor­ries

Ruth won­ders whether to pick up a baby bird ly­ing in the road­side

French Property News - - Fpn Contents -

Mummy! Come quick!” My daugh­ter Ma­bel and her friend Alice came run­ning up the stony track to our hol­i­day home. “There’s a baby bird ly­ing in the road. It must have fallen out of its nest. We’ve got to save it.”

My heart sank. A baby bird in the road? It would never sur­vive – not here in our Bre­ton ham­let where cats prowled the streets and buz­zards pa­trolled the skies.

“Come on!” said Ma­bel, tug­ging my sleeve. “We’ve got to save it.”

I brushed her off. “Erm... lis­ten girls, the thing is…” The nine-yearolds gazed up at me, eyes shin­ing with ex­pec­ta­tion. I mum­bled about the harsh re­al­i­ties of na­ture, that if the bird was in­jured it would die any­way and if it wasn’t in­jured it would fly away in its own good time. They were dis­mayed. “But it will get eaten by a cat or run over.”

Hmm, yes, fair point. “But if we touch it, its mother will prob­a­bly re­ject it,” I re­sponded, vaguely re­mem­ber­ing read­ing words to that ef­fect years ear­lier. The girls took no no­tice of my as­sess­ment. They dragged me down the path to the road­side where a lit­tle brown bird was in­deed ly­ing on its side, quiv­er­ing and peep­ing, its eyes flick­er­ing in what I imag­ined was distress. There were no trees im­me­di­ately nearby but there was a barn. Could it be a house martin chick? It looked more like a spar­row, not that I knew much about these things. I took out my phone and, as our Ru­ral Rid­dles colum­nist Jeremy Hobson was not yet on speed dial, I looked for ad­vice on the RSPB web­site. The char­ity said it wasn’t rare in the warmer months to see fledglings alone on the ground while their flight feath­ers com­pleted their growth. In­ter­fer­ing could do more harm than good; it was best to leave them well alone un­less they were ex­posed and in dan­ger. Was our bird in dan­ger? Well yes; it was ly­ing in the road and ap­peared un­able to flee or fly. In­ter­est­ingly, the RSPB said it was a myth that a fledg­ling’s par­ents would re­ject it if it were han­dled by hu­mans. Birds ap­par­ently have a poor sense of smell and are highly un­likely to aban­don their young.

That was the de­cider for me. Wear­ing gar­den­ing gloves, I picked up the bird and placed it gently in a shoe­box with some grass and twigs. Then we nes­tled the box into the top of a spiky bush just across the road, out of the way of cars and cats, but hope­fully within sight and earshot of the bird’s mum and dad. Then, re­sist­ing temp­ta­tion, we went back in­side. Twenty min­utes later the bird was still there but 40 min­utes later it was gone. “Ha! I bet one of my cats got it,” laughed our neigh­bour Vir­ginie when she saw us hud­dled around the box. But Ma­bel and Alice knew bet­ter. “We saved it,” they de­clared with glee. “We’re wildlife su­per­heroes!”

Ruth Wood won­ders whether to in­ter­fere with Mum Na­ture

The bird in the box – a baby spar­row?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.